La Sagne. Photo/Foto: TES.

La Sagne and the Watchmaking Industry

Until the 13th century, the valley of La Sagne (canton of Neuchâtel) was deserted. It was a marshy (sagne means swamp), cold and wild region. Jean II d’Arberg (1334-1383), Lord of Valangin, granted permission to settle the valley in 1372.

He created the status of “francs-habergeants”; those who settled in La Sagne benefited from a privilege and were not subject to all taxes.

The village developed little by little. The Romanesque-Gothic church in La Sagne was built in the early 16th century and is the oldest church in the Neuchâtel mountains. The ‘Sagnards’ lived mainly from agriculture and cattle breeding. As elsewhere in the Neuchâtel mountains, the peasant watchmakers made the country prosperous in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Sagnard Daniel Jeanrichard (1665-1741) is considered the founder of the Neuchâtel watchmaking industry.

La Sagne is a typical street village. The houses are spread out along the valley. The old houses are very similar. They allowed the families to live in autarky during the long Jura winters.